The Lost Word: Out of 389 licensed news channels only Doordarshan airs 5 minutes of Sanskrit news in India



By Prachi Mishra


It won’t be erroneous to assume that most of the people in our country are unable to decipher the meaning of Sanskrit shlokas. The 1991 Indian census reported 49,736 fluent speakers of Sanskrit. In the year 2001, the number of speakers of Sanskrit reduced to 14,135. The fact that there’s only one television channel in our country, Doordarshan, which airs news bulletin in Sanskrit reflects the deplorable state of our ancient language.

In today’s world of commercialization, where due to cut-throat competition the news channels are employing several techniques and strategies to undermine their rivals, there is only one channel which, unaffected by this rat-race, has tried to preserve our heritage. What could be more disconcerting than this?

Sanskrit is the root of all major Indian languages, a true reflection of its rich cultural heritage. However with the advent of western- style education system, imposed by the British, Sanskrit has lost its privileged status.

In the present- day scenario, Sanskrit is a language which is looked down upon. It is not prioritized in our society and there is a perception that Sanskrit education is a means to educate only the priests and those who want to teach the subject. Due to this lack of interest, the funds provided for its training are scarce. While in India the state of our ancient language is deplorable, there has been an increased interest in the study of Sanskrit in foreign nations. It is ironic that most of our ancient scriptures and texts are now being translated from Sanskrit by foreign authors.

Amidst this scenario, the attempt of Doordarshan to revive the language in the country is praise- worthy. It has tried to take Sanskrit beyond all the limitations, trying to create a renewed interest for the language. The bulletin aired in Sanskrit is presently only five minutes long, but there has been a demand to increase the duration.

The need of the hour is that appropriate measures should be taken to resuscitate Sanskrit from the abyss it has fallen into. It is sad that, while there are several channels airing bulletins in Hindi, English and other regional languages as well, there’s only one show which is creating awareness of the richness of Sanskrit language.